Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol) is a brand-name prescription medication. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it:
- to treat asthma in adults and children ages 6 years and older
- as a maintenance treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in adults
Symbicort contains the active medications budesonide and formoterol. Budesonide belongs to a drug class called corticosteroids. Formoterol belongs to a drug class called long-acting beta2 agonists. Together, they help reduce airway irritation, swelling, and tightness.
Symbicort is available as the generic drug budesonide/formoterol. It comes as a metered-dose inhaler.
For information about the dosage of Symbicort, including its strengths and how to use the drug, keep reading. For a comprehensive look at Symbicort, see this article.
This article describes typical dosages for Symbicort provided by the drug’s manufacturer. When using Symbicort, always follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor.
Commonly recommended dosages for Symbicort are shown below. However, your doctor will prescribe the Symbicort dosage that’s right for you.
Symbicort comes as a metered-dose inhaler, which delivers the drug in a spray that you inhale through your mouth.
Symbicort comes in two strengths:
- 80 micrograms (mcg) of budesonide and 4.5 mcg of formoterol
- 160 mcg of budesonide/4.5 mcg of formoterol
Each inhaler contains either 60 or 120 puffs.
Typical dosages for adults
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Dosage for asthma
The typical dosage of Symbicort for asthma is two puffs twice per day, about 12 hours apart. Your doctor will determine the strength of the dose based on the severity of your asthma symptoms. The recommended maximum dose is two puffs of 160 mcg of budesonide/4.5 mcg of formoterol twice per day.
Dosage for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
The recommended dosage of Symbicort for COPD is two puffs of 160 mcg of budesonide/4.5 mcg of formoterol twice per day. The doses should be taken 12 hours apart if possible.
Symbicort is approved to treat asthma in children ages 6 years and older.
The dosage of Symbicort for children ages 6 to 11 years is two puffs of 80 mcg of budesonide/4.5 mcg of formoterol twice per day. The doses should be spaced 12 hours apart if possible.
The dosage of Symbicort for children ages 12 years and older is two puffs twice per day, taken about 12 hours apart. Doctors will determine the strength of the dose based on the severity of your child’s asthma symptoms. The recommended maximum dose is two puffs of 160 mcg of budesonide/4.5 mcg of formoterol twice per day.
Symbicort is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Symbicort is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely use it long term.
Below are some common questions related to Symbicort’s dosage.
How many doses of Symbicort will I use per day?
The typical recommended dosage of Symbicort is two puffs twice per day. If you count each puff as a dose, you will use four doses each day. Symbicort contains either 60 or 120 doses per inhaler.
If you have questions about your dose of Symbicort, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
What is a low dose of Symbicort?
The low dose strength of Symbicort is 80 micrograms (mcg) of budesonide and 4.5 mcg of formoterol per puff. Doctors typically prescribe two puffs twice per day.
Symbicort comes in two strengths:
- 80 mcg of budesonide/4.5 mcg of formoterol
- 160 mcg of budesonide/4.5 mcg of formoterol
Talk with your doctor if you have questions about the strength of your Symbicort dosage.
Can Symbicort be used as a rescue inhaler? If so, what is the dose?
No, Symbicort isn’t a rescue inhaler, and you should not use it that way. It won’t help when you’re having breathing problems. Instead, Symbicort is a maintenance medication to help with long-term breathing management.
Your doctor will prescribe a different inhaler to use as a rescue inhaler when you’re having breathing problems.
Tell your doctor if you’re having breathing problems often or you feel as if your asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease isn’t well managed. Together, you can review your symptoms and treatment plan and decide whether your treatment plan needs adjusting.
The Symbicort dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re using Symbicort to treat
- your age
- other medical conditions you have
Symbicort comes as a metered-dose inhaler, which delivers the drug as a spray you inhale through your mouth. It’s important to use the correct inhaler technique to help with symptom management. To learn more about how to use Symbicort, visit the manufacturer’s website.
You’ll typically use Symbicort twice per day, about 12 hours apart. It’s helpful to use Symbicort around the same times each day. This helps maintain steady levels of the two drugs in your body so Symbicort can work effectively.
After each time you use Symbicort (two puffs), rinse your mouth with water and spit it out. Do not swallow the water. This will help prevent oral thrush, which is a yeast infection of the mouth and throat.
Do not stop using Symbicort without talking with your doctor. Suddenly stopping Symbicort can make breathing problems worse. This can lead to complications, including the need to seek immediate medical care or go to the hospital. Your doctor can tell you how to safely stop Symbicort if necessary.
If your child is prescribed Symbicort, help them with their doses as instructed by their healthcare professional.
ACCESSIBLE DRUG LABELS
If you’re having trouble reading your prescription label, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies offer labels with large print, braille, or a code you scan with a smartphone to convert text to speech. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have these options, your doctor or pharmacist might be able to recommend a pharmacy that does.
If you miss a dose of Symbicort, skip it and take your next dose at the regularly scheduled time.
It’s important to try to use Symbicort every 12 hours.
To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.
It’s important that you do not use more Symbicort than your doctor advises. If you use more Symbicort than your doctor prescribes, you may develop serious side effects.
Symptoms of an overdose
Overdose symptoms from Symbicort can include:
- changes in blood pressure
- chest pain
- increased or irregular heart rate
- heart palpitations
- muscle cramps
- sleep problems
- tremor or shakiness
If you take more than the recommended amount of Symbicort
Call your doctor right away if you believe you’ve taken too much Symbicort. Another option is to call America’s Poison Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number or go to the nearest emergency room.
The dosages in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Symbicort for you, they will prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes.
As with any drug, never change your dosage of Symbicort without your doctor’s recommendation. If you have questions about the dosage of Symbicort that’s best for you, talk with your doctor.
Besides learning about dosage, you may want other information about Symbicort. These additional articles might be helpful:
- More about Symbicort. For information about other aspects of Symbicort, refer to this article.
- Drug comparison. To find out how Symbicort compares with Breo, read this article.
- Details about asthma and COPD. For details about asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), see our asthma and allergies hub and COPD hub.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.